A few years ago, the United States Navy launched a new recruiting and marketing campaign using the slogan: “America’s Navy: A global force for good.” The line was apparently a flop, and the Navy threw it overboard for “protecting America the world over,” but I liked it. I thought it captured a deep truth about the Navy, which is that it is undoubtedly a global force and that the force exists for ...

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In the world of medicine, we often feel like we’re swimming upstream without a paddle. Like we’re the only ones having problems out there. With no one to lend a hand. No wonder health care providers suffer from major burnout. You would think when one is away on a great vacation, it’d be easy to rein in that feeling, to appreciate what truly matters. Not always. Until it is presented to you ...

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Vivek Murthy was recently confirmed to become the surgeon general of the United States. Much of the press in the past few hours have been celebrating the political victory over the GOP objections, particularly the National Rifle Association. But does this mean anything for the health of America? Supporters cite his medical credentials about being educated at the most prestigious institutions in the U.S. People also site his public health credentials, like ...

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Physician–assisted suicide: the collaboration of two through a professional relationship, to cause the death of one. Ever since Socrates took hemlock, suicide has been part of society, sometimes supported, often condemned.  Today, many argue that we have a right to die, sort of an infinite extension of free speech or thought.   Regardless, to actively involve doctors is a unique distortion of the medical arts, as if stopping a beating heart can somehow ...

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shutterstock_44805883 There once was a kind, humble physician who worked for years in an office building across the street from the hospital, toiling day to day to take exceptional care of his patients.  He was open and deliberate, calm and thoughtful.  He himself hired every secretary and medical assistant, every nurse, and biller.  His staff formed a protective family who fiercely advocated ...

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What is it worth to be treated in a hospital with a stellar patient safety record rather than one with lower performance? For a large majority of survey participants in a recent study by researchers from the Altarum Institute and Drexel University, the answer is quite a lot. Published online last month in the Journal of Patient Safety, the study found that most respondents would choose a hospital with a ...

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I have recently become a card-carrying member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.  Lofty title for a lowly blogger, but I’ll take it.  There are two main advantages to this membership, at least that I can see so far.  The first is access to the full text of online journals, key to actually discussing research intelligently.  The second is the discussion groups, where journalists of all stripes can ask ...

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shutterstock_228944191 Exactly one year ago, I abruptly fell off my professional trajectory. I lost the battle I was fighting -- trying to bring new and fresh ideas and a measure of fairness and accountability into a dictatorial academic establishment -- and, pretty much, lost the war. The year that followed was a spectacular ride, filled with new ideas, meeting great people, creating business ventures ...

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Atul Gawande posted a series of tweets, based on findings in the Senate CIA torture report, about the significant role physicians and psychologists played in torture. He comments, “But the worst for me is to see the details of how doctors, psychologists, and others sworn to aid human beings made the torture possible.” Agreed. Upon reading how these professionals used their knowledge to torture their fellow human beings I felt disappointed, ...

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shutterstock_97947788 As I watch the business world's fascination with the electronic medical record (EMR) and all of the big data that it accumulates, I see more and more processes codified and treatment pathways carefully honed. Only one small thing remains until the computer can tell doctors how to behave based on the developed algorithms: To turn free text in the patient chart ...

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